Kadima MK Seeks to Void Outcome of Primary

MK Zeev Elkin (Kadima) yesterday appealed the results of last Wednesday's Kadima primary to the internal Kadima Party tribunal, asking it to void the results or to order a repeat vote at those polling locations where there were "significant irregularities," in his words.

"The election results do not actually reflect the will of the voters," said Elkin. At the same time Elkin's lawyer, Zion Amir, asked President Shimon Peres not to ask Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who won the primary, to form the next government. Peres refused the request.

Elkin claimed that voting irregularities meant that hundreds of votes were effectively not counted, rendering the election invalid. In the end, Livni beat her rival, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, by only 431 votes.

The Kadima Party issued the following statement in response to Elkin's claims: "An examination of the polling station protocols shows that it is possible to explain the irregularies in each and every polling station, and explanations will be provided if needed to the party tribunal." The party clarified "an examination of the protocols showed no votes disappeared and the counting of the votes was correct and valid."

39,872 Kadima members voted last Wednesday for the new party chairman. Of these, 39,331 ballots were determined to be valid and only 284 ballots were disqualified. This leaves 257 votes unaccounted for. "No one knows where those votes disappeared to. That is what we have been crying about for a week," said attorney Moti Alfariah from the Mofaz camp.

One polling station with known irregularities was in the northern village of Yarka. The head of the polling station, Nur Abu Akal, told Haaretz of attempts to "sneak ballots into the ballot box" on election day.

Elkin claimed in his appeal that there was a significant discrepancy between the numbers of eligible Kadima voters as announced prior to the primary and on the day of the primary itself. The number of party members eligible to vote that was given on the day of the primary was 74,721, while the number announced as the correct figure before the voting was 74,675, according to Elkin. He said the additional number of voters - 46 in all - was a significant factor that could affect the outcome of the primary.

Another claim raised related to the extension of voting by half an hour. Elkin claims that over 1,000 party members voted during this time. He claimed that the decision by the Kadima central election committee to extend the voting day was unreasonable, that it should have been approved by all candidates, and that they should have been permitted to express their views before such a critical decision was made.

In support of his claims about the extended voting hours, Elkin said the broadcasting of the results of all three television surveys 15 minutes before the end of the voting, greatly favoring Livni, clearly affected the behavior of voters and the results.

Elkin also appealed the election committee's decision to disqualify the ballot box in the Negev Bedouin city of Rahat and demanded a re-vote there.

The head of Livni's election day organization, MK Yohanan Plesner, related to the incident in Rahat and blamed the Mofaz campaign for a policy of attempting to disrupt the voting at polling stations where Livni was known to be strong. Plesner referred to three polling places: Rahat, Ashkelom and Upper Nazareth. He explained that in Rahat Livni had almost total support, with a small number voting for Meir Sheetrit, while Mofaz was expected to have garner almost no votes there.

"They sent an campaign worker to end [the voting], they came and overturned the ballot box. They tried the same thing in Upper Nazareth and almost succeeded. Our people had already fled the polling place, we sent the police and a patrol car came. They also tried to destroy a ballot box of ours that evening in Ashkelon and the police also came," Plesner said.